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Sir Francis Walsingham’s official title was principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I, but in fact this pious,
tight-lipped Puritan was England’s first spymaster. A ruthless, fiercely loyal civil servant, Walsingham worked
brilliantly behind the scenes to foil Elizabeth’s rival Mary Queen of Scots and outwit Catholic Spain and France, which
had arrayed their forces behind her. Though he cut an incongruous figure in Elizabeth’s worldly court, Walsingham
managed to win the trust of key players like William Cecil and the Earl of Leicester before launching his own secret
campaign against the queen’s enemies. Covert operations were Walsingham’s genius; he pioneered techniques for exploiting
double agents, spreading disinformation, and deciphering codes with the latest code-breaking science that remain staples
of international espionage.